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Councillor: ‘Giving goldfish as prizes at funfairs is cruel – the town hall must ban it’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:58 31 August 2017

Goldfish handed out as prizes at the Highbury Fields funfair on Saturday. Picture: Caroline Russell

Goldfish handed out as prizes at the Highbury Fields funfair on Saturday. Picture: Caroline Russell

Archant

A councillor has called on the town hall to ban goldfish “cruelly” being handed out as prizes in Islington – after witnessing it at the recent Highbury Fields funfair.

Highbury East Cllr Caroline Russell was “shocked” to see children clutching goldfish in small plastic bags on Saturday.

Giving goldfish away as prizes is legal under the Animal Welfare Act, so long as any under 16s are accompanied by an adult. The fair’s operating company, Billy Davis Funfairs, said it complied with this.

But the RSPCA says the creatures are “easily stressed”, and that “many fairground fish die before their new owners can get them home” due to factors such as shock, oxygen starvation and water temperature changes.

Cllr Russell, the town hall’s sole opposition member, called on Islington to take the “absolutely obvious” course of action – and it has promised to investigate.

“This is just cruel,” she told the Gazette. “A huge number of these fish don’t make it.

“The bags they are handed out in are small. They were selling tanks for £9.99. One family I spoke to were unhappy at the extra expense, but felt like they had to buy them.

“This isn’t appropriate and doesn’t teach children the right example when it comes to responsible pet ownership.

“The council needs to put a clause in place that says using live goldfish as a prize in completely unacceptable. If it has any sense, it will make sure events in Islington conform with animal welfare.

“It’s absolutely obvious. West Sussex and Liverpool have these licensing policies in place. Islington should follow.”

The funfair finished on Monday, having started on August 19. Billy Davis Junior told the Gazette: “We had permission off the council. We follow the requirements and have the paperwork to prove it.”

An Islington spokesman said: “We take animal welfare and responsible pet ownership seriously, and will always carry out all the necessary checks to ensure commercial operators are abiding by the law and following national guidance.

“We carried out checks before and during the funfair to make sure they were operating legally.”

But he vowed: “We will investigate whether a ban on offering live animals as funfair prizes has proved effective in other areas.”

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